DUST OFF THE VINYL: The tranquil and chilling final breath of an icon
March 31, 2023
Nirvana was anxious, being asked and agreeing to do MTV Unplugged was already a step out of their comfort zone, but Kurt was suffering withdrawal and the rehearsals were not going well, this was going to be a failure.
Though as it turned out it wasn’t. Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance is an anxiety-ridden, though somehow peaceful experience, these mixed emotions create this almost ethereal atmosphere. Kurt Cobain’s pain-filled voice acts in direct contrast to the acoustic instruments being played and creates one of the best live performances of all time.
Starting with a song on their first album, “About A Girl” going all the way to the end of their music output, “All Apologies” the performance spans the entire career, covering songs that inspired them too, such as their amazing rendition of “The Man Who Sold The World” by David Bowie and their emotionally poignant performance of “Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam.”
The stage around him, with candles and roses, almost serves as funeral decoration, celebrating Kurt’s life and work.
These stripped-back performances truly show what an amazing songwriter and performer Kurt Cobain was. One standout is this performance’s version of “Pennyroyal Tea” the band hadn’t practiced the song in this form enough in the limited time so Kurt does it solo, it is a gripping and intense performance.
Late into the show, Kurt brings out members from a band he really loved, The Meat Puppets, and played three of their songs “Lake Of Fire,” “Plateau” and “Oh Me” these renditions are absolutely stunning.
The silence in the room after this speaks volumes to the atmosphere of the room this was performed in. You can feel the anxiety, you can feel the emotion you can truly feel the entire emotion of every song played, culminating in one of the most chilling, intense, and beautiful endings of any performance, or any album for that matter ever.
Kurt Cobain’s performance of “In The Pines,” here titled “Where Did you Sleep Last Night” is one of the most chilling vocal performances of all time, truly feeling like a swansong for the band. Kurt’s final vocal passages when the instrumentals slow are only of the most chilling moments in music history.
After the show, the band was asked to do an encore by the MTV executives, everyone else in the band wanted to but Kurt didn’t when pressured to say why he said “I can’t top what I just did.”
Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged show is one of the most beautiful and dark moments in music history while also being a phenomenal album in its own right, it’s varied tracklisting and extremely high moments serve as one of the best albums of all time, It deserves it’s spot as one of the greatest live shows of all time.